Afghanistan: UN experts condemn Taliban decision to deny girls secondary education

GENEVA (24 March 2022) – UN human rights experts* today condemned the decision by the de facto authorities in Afghanistan to postpone the resumption of schooling for girls above grade six, saying the announcement flies in the face of multiple assurances from the Taliban that all girls can go to school.

“We deplore the Taliban’s continued insistence to erase women and girls from the public life of the country and to deny them their fundamental human rights such as the right to education,” the experts said. “This decision must be reversed immediately, and girls of all ages in every part of Afghanistan should be allowed to return to their classrooms safely.”

Afghanistan has a binding legal obligation to uphold the fundamental human rights and freedoms guaranteed in customary international law and human rights treaties that the country is signatory to, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which it has ratified. According to international law, a party may not invoke provisions of its domestic law, including those based on religious doctrine, as a justification for its failure to perform a treaty and to perpetuate discrimination, the elimination of which is a core obligation.

“We call on the international community, including donors, international organisations, and UN agencies operating in Afghanistan to hold the de facto authorities to account and to ensure that every girl can take her rightful place in the classroom,” the experts said. “The right of girls, irrespective of age, to enjoy access to education is an inalienable and non-negotiable right that must be protected.”


*The experts: Reem AlsalemSpecial Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequencesMelissa Upreti (Chair), Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Vice-Chair), Elizabeth Broderick, Ivana Radačić, and Meskerem Geset TechaneWorking Group on discrimination against women and girls;  Koumba Boly BarrySpecial Rapporteur on the right to educationGladys Acosta Vargas, Chair, on behalf of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against WomenMikiko Otani, Chair, on behalf of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

The Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women monitors States parties’ compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which to date has 189 States parties.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors States parties' adherence to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols on involvement of children in armed conflict, and on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The Convention to date has 196 States parties. The Committee is made up of 18 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.

UN Human Rights, Country Page — Afghanistan